When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Southampton 4 Coventry City 0
IT MAY have ended predictably, but it ended in glory.
For the second season in a row, the St Mary’s turf was covered by jubilant Saints fans, and that told the whole story.
This didn’t prove to be all about the final day game which went exactly as most predicted, but about the achievements over the course of the season.
If there was a tinge of disappointment that Saints didn’t make it out of League One with a title in the cabinet, there should be no such feelings this time round.
Were it not for Reading’s remarkable run, Saints would have bagged the Championship crown.
But in this division the most important thing is promotion to the big time.
The prize of the Premier League is what it’s all about, to be back amongst the elite, in the cash rich mega division.
Whether the reality will be quite the same as the dream remains to be seen.
People are hoping that Saints can repeat this season’s feats of Norwich and Swansea when they are back amongst the big boys themselves.
But three seasons of winning the vast majority of games they played is going to be very different to 2012/13.
Norwich and Swansea have had outstanding debut seasons in the Premier League but have each won just 11 league games over the entire campaign.
It is sure going to be different.
But that is, of course, no reason not to get there and give it a go.
People have already been talking about what Saints will need to compete at that level, which players will make the grade, which need the chop.
For today, though, the message is simple – let’s just enjoy this moment.
The talk of what is next is important, and there is little time to waste for Saints, but it can start tomorrow.
For now enjoy the pictures of the celebrations, enjoy a day back at work discussing an amazing weekend with friends and colleagues.
The memories of promotion to the Premier League, of flooding the pitch, of lifting the play-ers high and celebrating with them, are things that don’t come along very often.
Most veteran Saints fans will probably vouch for the fact that a couple of occasions over a lifetime is pretty good going.
So make the most of it.
This was the best way to go up, in front of a record-breaking St Mary’s crowd, rather than just sat watching the TV last Monday night and hoping West Ham lost.
The truth of the matter was that, had the last game not been against Coventry at home, you might have just wanted it over.
But such was the certainty in the minds of many that Saints would triumph, and emphatically so, that this was always likely to be a promotion winning party day.
When being asked my thoughts of a possible upset before the game, I could honestly see no way Saints would not win incredibly comfortably unless they had Kelvin Davis and Rickie Lambert sent off inside the first ten minutes.
That didn’t happen and the inevitability of Saints’ victory was overwhelming.
You had to feel for Coventry because this contest was not fair.
A flying, buzzing club with an expensive squad against an already demoted, financially weak club who are experiencing the sort of thing Saints went through in their Championship relegation season.
To say it was men against boys would quite literally be true in most cases, such was Coventry’s lack of players that they were having to field a host of teenagers with little first team experience between them.
Perhaps winning a more competitive game might have added to the occasion even more, but for most Saints fans the fact they could celebrate knowing they were promoted after just 19 minutes was probably quite enough.
In fairness to Coventry, they did capitalise on some early Saints nerves to force Kelvin Davis into a save as he turned behind Gary McSheffrey’s effort.
But it took just 16 minutes for all those nerves to be settled.
Jose Fonte picked a great game to produce his best performance of the season and broke forward with the ball, feeding it into Guly do Prado on the right.
The Brazilian curled it back to Adam Lallana on the edge of the area and his first time volley was deflected home via a slight touch off Billy Sharp.
Just three minutes later it was game over as Danny Fox’s looping, outswinging corner found Fonte criminally unmarked.
He put in a diving header that fired down into the turf and bounced up over the head of the man on the post.
After that point, it was largely a Saints parade.
Coventry didn’t stop trying and Davis did have to make a couple more saves, but it only ever felt like a matter of how many more Saints would get.
The answer was to be two.
The first of those was on 59 minutes and from another Fox corner, this time driven in low, not cleared by the Coventry defence and the ball falling to Jos Hooiveld in the six yard box.
He showed a striker’s instinct to quickly swivel and get in a shot that made it 3-0.
Just four minutes later it was four via a classic Saints move that they have used so often this season.
After that moment you sensed the Saints players were on cruise control, desperately trying to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the moment.
It’s not often you know you are promoted with so long to play and, with these moments come so rarely in a career, you couldn’t blame them, When the final whistle went it was scenes of total joy on the pitch.
You finish where you deserve to, and for Saints that means a Premier League place next season.